December 4, 2011

GOING GALT: Kennewick Construction Company Auctions Itself Off.

It took Bob Bertsch 25 years to build his construction business and just a day for it all to go away.

Bertsch’s Kennewick-based Ashley-Bertsch Group went on the auction block Friday at 9 a.m. By 4 p.m., Booker Auctions had sold off almost two dozen vehicles and trailers, tons of power tools and supplies, even the gas-fired fireplace in the office.

Bertsch, 65, said he is down-sizing because the tax burden got too expensive to stay in business.

After a quarter of a century of building a successful enterprise at 5903 W. Metaline Ave., Bertsch sat back and watched as about 200 people bid on what was left of his company — boxes of electrical parts, a drafting desk, high-end office furniture, TVs, computers and even the phone system.

Anything that could be carried away, was.

“I am tired of carrying all the tax load,” Bertsch said. “I renew 13 licenses here every year just so I can spend money in this city.”

Bertsch makes no attempt to conceal his frustration with the costs government imposes on small businesses like his.

“Government is killing small business. We used to have 24 employees at our peak. Now, all of those people who used to work here are in unemployment lines,” he said.

Hope and change.

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